I recently had lunch with an old friend whom I love dearly but have not seen in many years. I had the great honor of being her matron of honor twenty-nine years ago, for which she gave me one of my most prized possessions: an edition of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with illustrations by Gustave Dore. Having revisited this wonderful volume, I want to pause and make note of its remarkable illustrator.
Gustave Dore was a French illustrator who lived from 1832-1883. His work is best known for his wood etchings, a medium that gives his pictures an ethereal, other-worldly quality perfectly suited to the fairy tales and fantasies they depict. It also makes everything look just a little creepy, even the most innocent child or bunny. He is well known for his illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy and Milton’s Paradise Lost, but also for fairy tales such as Red Riding Hood and, of course, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
For you, and for me, a gallery of his work:
One last thing. Given how I love allusions, you must know that I think of these illustrations every time I watch the movie Serenity. Why? When The Assassin refers to River as “an albatross around their necks,” Mal replies “I believe the albatross was the ship’s good luck until some idiot killed it.” This is the picture that scene always conjures up for me:
The moral of this story: just because something is a pest doesn’t mean you should shoot it.